If you are already nursing a toddler and you have newborn twins, it is possible to continue nursing all of your children. In the beginning, however, you may be overwhelmed because your newborn will nurse so frequently. Somewhere in between nursing them, you'll also have to carve out time (and more milk) to nurse your toddler. But if you decide you want or need to wean your toddler that is a valid and legitimate option as well.
Is Breastfeeding Twins and a Toddler Possible?
Can you continue breastfeeding twins and a toddler? The answer is "yes"- it is possible, but you'll need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your babies. There are many reasons for breastfeeding, which are wonderful points to consider as you weigh the option of whether to nurse both your twins and your toddler. Examples include:
- Breastfeeding is certainly affordable!
- Breastfeeding gives your baby added nutrients and antibodies.
- Breastfeeding provides continuous health benefits even after your baby stops nursing.
- Breastfeeding creates a wonderful bond between mother and child.
- Breast milk is typically easier to digest.
- Breastfeeding is often more convenient than bottle feeding.
Tips and Advice
Assuming you decide to move forward with nursing twins and a toddler, there are some tips that can make this easier for you and your children. First, remember that you are not alone in this adventure. There are many moms who have already paved the way for tandem nursing, and many have done so successfully. You can achieve that same success, especially if you pay attention to the following suggestions:
- Take care of yourself! Because you are breastfeeding twins and a toddler, you'll need to increase your calorie count and get plenty of rest.
- Get your twins on a feeding schedule. In the beginning, you may be nursing your infants every couple of hours or so. After a few weeks, however, the time between feedings should get longer.
- Nurse your twins at the same time. If you take turns nursing the twins and then nurse your toddler, you'll find your day filled with nothing but breastfeeding! If one twin is sleeping, wake him or her so you can breastfeed both babies together.
- Find ways to occupy your toddler while you are nursing your twin newborns. You can ask him to bring you a book to read to him, you and he could sing songs to the babies, etc. You could also put on one of his favorite videos.
- Spend quality time with your toddler. Even when you are not nursing the babies or your toddler, try to find some time to spend with your toddler so that he doesn't feel left out. Your newborns will demand so much of your time that you may find yourself preoccupied with their care. Try to spend some alone time with your older child whenever you can.
- Since your toddler will not be nursing as often as your infants, you should be able to work in his nursing sessions without too much trouble. Try not to nurse him as soon as you finish nursing your twins, however, to give your milk supply a chance to build back up.
- Try pumping and storing your milk so that others can feed your newborns occasionally. This will free up some time to spend with your toddler.
Weaning Your Toddler
You shouldn't feel guilty if you are ready to stop breastfeeding. The following are some things to consider if you decide to wean your toddler:
- Your toddler may actually be ready to wean. This is called a natural weaning or child-led weaning and is directed by the toddler's cues. So if he appears to be disinterested or becomes distracted while nursing, nurses in shorter sessions or just nurses for comfort, your toddler may be just fine with the weaning process.
- An abrupt wean should be avoided. This can be upsetting for your toddler especially if he is not quite ready to give up nursing. To allow your toddler to adjust physically and emotionally, weaning should be done over time.
- The recommended way to begin weaning is to drop a feeding session a week until all feeding sessions are replaced by a bottle or cup.
- As you start to wean, it will be easier if the toddler has a healthy snack or takes milk from another source (bottle or cup) at the same time his usual feeding would be.
- Expect your toddler to be whiny and grumpy. It is okay and normal for your little one to cry as he is dealing with a loss. Simply let him experience and ride out his emotions.
- Engage your toddler in fun activities or outings at the times you would usually nurse.
- If he picks up a new comfort habit such as a favorite blanket or thumb sucking, don't discourage it just yet. Your toddler may just be trying to adjust to the new changes.
- Be sure to have your spouse or partner participate in the weaning process. By just providing a distraction at nursing time such as playing or reading can help immensely.
- If your toddler is extremely resistant to weaning, he may adapt better to gentle weaning. You will still drop feedings but it is a more gradual process that may take months. Another approach is 'don't offer, don't refuse'. This is where you don't offer to nurse but don't refuse if your toddler wants to nurse. Some moms naturally resort to this method as their baby gets older but patience is required as it will take longer than other methods.
Be reassured that there's no right or wrong way to wean. Just watch and respond, if your toddler gives you cues that he is ready to wean, it could make the process easier.
Finally, don't hesitate to ask others for help. Whether it's your husband, relatives, or friends, you'll certainly be able to use their assistance when it comes to feeding the babies, helping with weaning or babysitting, so you can take a well-deserved break. Taking care of three babies is tiring, and it is just as important for you to take care of yourself as well!